Matthew 12:10

Matthew 12:10

And behold, there was a man which had his hand withered,
&c.] Or dry; the juices were dried up, the nerves and sinews contracted, so that it was of no manner of use to him: Luke says, it was his right hand, which was so much the worse; and means not only his hand, but the whole arm. Such a case is mentioned in the Talmud {a}, "it happened to one, "(wewrz hvbyv) , that his arm was dry, or withered. Jerom says F2, in the Gospel which the Nazarenes and Hebionites used, this man is said to be a plasterer, and so might possibly come by his misfortune through his business; and being a man that got his bread by his hand labour, the case was the more affecting. This account is introduced with a "behold!" it being remarkable that such a case should offer so opportunely, of showing his divine power in healing such a disorder; and of his authority, as the Son of man, over the sabbath; and of putting to silence his enemies, the Pharisees: and who, upon seeing such an object, put the following question to him;

and they asked him, saying, is it lawful to heal on the sabbath day?
and which was put, not for information sake, as willing to be instructed in this point; for their determinations were, that healing was not lawful on such a day; nor were any means to be made use of for that purpose: if a man received a cure accidentally, it was very well; but no methods were to be taken with intention: as for instance F3;

``if a man had an ailment in his throat, he might not gargle it with oil, but he might swallow a large quantity of oil, (aprtn aprtn Maw) "and "if he was healed, he was healed" (i.e. it was very well, it was no breach of the sabbath); they may not chew mastic, nor rub the teeth with spice, on the sabbath day, (hawprl Nywktmv Nmzb) , "when it is intended "for healing"; but if it is intended for the savour of his mouth, it is free.''

There are several things they allowed might be done on the sabbath; but then they did not reckon them to come under the notion of healing.

``Three F4 things R. Ishmael bar Jose said he had heard from R. Matthia ben Charash; they might let blood for the stranguary on the sabbath day; one that was bit by a mad dog, they might give him hog's liver to eat; and he that had an ailment in his mouth, they might put spice to it on the sabbath day: but the wise men say of these, that there is not in them (hawpr Mwvm) , anything of medicine.''

Indeed, in case of extreme danger of life they did admit of the use of medicine, by the prescription of a physician F5.

``Danger of life drives away the sabbath; wherefore, if there is any danger in a sick person, it is lawful to kindle a fire for him and they may kill, and bake, and boil: and though there may be no apparent danger, only a doubt of danger; as when one physician says there is a necessity, and another physician says there is none, they may profane the sabbath for him.''

Hence it is very clear with what view the Pharisees asked Christ this question; and that it was, as the evangelist says, that they might accuse him: either of cruelty and weakness, should he answer in the negative, that either he was not able to heal the poor man before him, or wanted compassion; or should he answer in the affirmative, as they expected, and act upon it, then they might have wherewith to charge him before the sanhedrim as a violator of the sabbath, and of their canons concerning it.


F1 T. Hieros. Yoma, fol. 40. 1.
F2 In loc.
F3 Maimon. Hilchot Sabbat, c. 21. sect. 24.
F4 T. Bab. Yoma, fol. 84. 1. Vid. Misn. Yoma, e. 8. sect. 7.
F5 Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora pr. neg. 65. Maimon. in Misn. Sabbat, c. 18. sect. 3.